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my personal and political foes. I thank you, gentlemen, who are a large portion of my late constituents. I thank you, and and every one of them, with all my heart, for the manly support which I have uniformly received. It has cheered and consoled me, amidst all my severe trials; and may I not add, that it is honorable to the generous hearts and enlightened heads who have resolved to protect the character of an old friend and faithful servant? The numerous manifestations of your confidence and attachment will be among the latest and most treasured recollections of my life. They impose upon me obligations which can never be weakened or cancelled. One of these obligations is that I should embrace every fair opportunity to vindicate that character which you have so generously sustained, and to evince to you and to the world that you have not yielded to the impulses of a blind and enthusiastic sentiment. I feel that I am, on all fit occasions, especially bound to vindicate myself to my former constituents. It was as their representative, it was in fulfilment of a high trust which they confided to me, that I have been accused of violating the most sacred of duties—of treating their wishes with contempt, and their interests with treachery. Nor is this obligation, in my conception of its import, at all weakened by the dissolution of the relations which heretofore existed between us. I would instantly resign the place I hold in the councils of the nation, and directly appeal to the suffrages of my late constituents, as a candidate for re-election, if I did know that my foes are of that class whom one rising from the dead cannot convince, whom nothing can silence, and who wage a war of extermination. On the issue of such an appeal, they would redouble their abuse of you and of me, for their hatred is common to us both. They have compelled me so often to be the theme of my addresses to the people, that I should have willingly abstained, on this festive occasion, from any allusion to this subject, but for a new and imposing form which the calumny against me has recently assumed. I am again put on my defence, not of any new charge, nor by any new adversary; but of the old charges, clad in a new dress, and exhibited by an open and undisguised enemy. The fictitious names have been stricken from the foot of the indictment, and that of a known and substantial prosecutor has been voluntarily offered. Undaunted by the formidable name of that prosecutor, I will avail myself, with your indulgence, of this fit opportunity of free and unreserved intercourse with you, as a large number of my late constituents, to make some observations on the past and present state of the question. When evidence shall be produced, as I have now a clear right to demand, in support of the accusation, it will be the proper time for me to take such notice of it as its nature shall require.
SPEECH ON RETIRING FROM OFFICE, DELIVERED AT WASHINGTON, MARCH 7, 1829
After the triumphant election of General Jackson as President in 1828, and his imposing inauguration to that office, March 4th, 1829, a number of the friends of Mr. Clay (who had resigned the post of secretary of state the day before that inauguration, and was preparing to return to his Western home) insisted that he should meet them around the festive board prior to his departure. To this request he acceded. The fifth toast was: “Health, prosperity, and happiness to our highly valued and esteemed guest and fellow-citizen, Henry Clay. Whatever the future destination of his life, he has done enough for honor, and need desire no higher reward than the deep-seated affection and respect of his friends and his country.” his having been received with #." enthusiastic .# r. Clay arose and addressed the company as follows:
In rising, Mr. President, to offer my respectful acknowledgments for the honors of which I am here the object, I must ask the indulgence of yourself and the other gentlemen now assembled for an unaffected embarrassment, which is more sensibly felt than it can be distinctly expressed.
This city has been the theatre of the greater portion of my public life. You, and others whom I now see, have been spectators of my public course and conduct. You and they are, if I may borrow a technical expression from an honorable profession of which you and I are both members, jurors of the vicinage. To a judgment rendered by those who have thus long known me, and by others, though not of the panel, who have possessed equal opportunities of forming correct opinions, I most cheerfully submit. If the weight of human testimony should be estimated by the intelligence and respectability of the witness, and the extent of his knowledge of the matter on which he testifies, the highest consideration is due to that which has been this day spontaneously given. I shall ever cherish it with the most grateful recollection and look back upon it with proud satisfaction. I should be glad to feel that I could with any propriety abstain from any allusion at this time and at this place to public affairs. But considering the occasion which has brought us together, the events which have